US National Guard deploys 54 SANs in consolidation project

The Army National Guard in the US is spending $10.5m (£6.6m) to deploy storage-area networks (SAN) in all 50 states and four...

The Army National Guard in the US is spending $10.5m (£6.6m) to deploy storage-area networks (SAN) in all 50 states and four territories where it has headquarters, to consolidate servers and its personnel and logistics data on to SAN islands with the aim of reducing the complexity and cost of management.

The National Guard's effort has involved 200TB of data storage. The ultimate goal is to have one corporate data centre and one disaster recovery facility.

Larry Borkowski, the National Guard's chief of automation and plans, said the software the National Guard chose allowed it to perform statewide data backups without cutting service to end users, and opened the door to creating a national data backup architecture in the future.

Northrop Grumman, a global aerospace and defence company, was contracted by the National Guard in January. It is completing work in three or four states each week and expects to finish the job by October.

"What they're doing is developing a strategy that's centred around a grouping of states moving to a core architecture focused around disaster recovery and business continuity," said Steve Alfieris, vice-president and general manager of EMC's federal systems division.

The National Guard is using EMC's TimeFinder software to take snapshots of its entire data set for backup. Borkowski said that centralising management of storage would allow the military organisation, which is like the Territorial Army in the UK, to reallocate administrators to other duties such as coding.

The primary function of the 54 SANs would be to handle personnel records management, finance, logistics, contracts and e-mail.

The National Guard, which is running Oracle applications on HP-UX, Windows NT and 2000, has between 10 and 100 servers within each state. Borkowski said the organisation needed a central storage management suite that could work across its entire infrastructure, which includes servers from Compaq, Dell and Hewlett-Packard. The storage is consolidated on EMC's high-end Symmetrix arrays.

Each data centre deploys EMC's ESN Manager software, which is part of the company's so-called AutoIS strategy, an initiative to swap application programming interfaces with those of competing vendors for interoperability in multivendor SANs.

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